The Hot Rodding culture dates back to the late 1940’s and the end of World War II mainly in southern California. It was fueled by a period of peace and growing prosperity as well as the enthusiasm of young men returning from war with newly acquired mechanical skills.
After the war there was a plentiful supply of mainly early fords such as Model T’s and Model A’s that became an excellent choice for tuning and improving the performance. At this time in history performance parts weren’t available and these came later with the car tuning pioneers such as Edlebrook, Offenhauser, Weber and many more. At this point for those who didn’t have access to machinery or the know how to improve the engines performance the main option was to improve the power to weight ratio of the vehicle. This was easily achieved by removing some parts such as the wings, running boards etc. To those with the facilities other enhancements were made such as channeling the body over the chasis rails to improve the stability and performing a roof chop to reduce the drag.
Over a relatively short period of time the aftermarket tuning parts industry became big business, with the illegal street racing eventually evolving into the new sports such as NASCAR and drag racing that we see today.
The original drag racing strips were much wider and longer than they are today and were mainly formed from disused landing strips that had been created for war-time purposes. As drag racing became increasingly more popular it became evident that a central body was required to ensure that certain levels of quality and safety were met which led to the formation of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The NHRA was formed by Wally Parks in 1951 in Southern California and today is one of the largest motor sports bodies in the world.
Hot Rod Evolution
In the 1970’s there was a drive to improve the efficiency of cars which led to an overall loss in power for most manufacturer’s cars. Due to the high fatality rates caused by accidents around the 1970’s there was also a drive to improve the safety of all vehicles which mainly required the removal of hard objects from directly in front of the driver etc. All these changes in the main stream motor industry forced hot-rodding to evolve as well with cars hot-rods being safer and more fuel efficient. This new stream of hot-rods are now referred to as Street-Rods and are built to be driven and more family friendly. To oversee these changes a new governing body was formed in a similar vein to the NHRA which was called the National Street Rod Association (NSRA). Where the NHRA’s primary focus is on safety on the drag strip the NSRA’s focus at events with an inspection team that checks everything before the event starts.
The definition of a street-rod is a car that was manufactured in 1948 or earlier that has been modified to meet the owners requirements. The usual upgrades that take place are things like the drive train, interior, audio equipment etc.